In January, the FCC adopted new rules for Distributed Transmission Systems (DTS) for TV broadcasters (the FCC’s order is available here). Last week, the rules were published in the Federal Register, setting the effective dates of these new rules as May 24, 2021 (except as they apply to Class A TV, LPTV and TV translators, where new rules are subject to further review by the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act before they become effective). The FCC yesterday released a Public Notice confirming that effective date. The new rules for DTS will allow over-the-air TV broadcasters to provide stronger, more uniform coverage throughout their service areas, rather than having coverage strongest near to a station’s transmitter site and decreasing as the distance to the viewer increases (or as terrain obstacles intervene).
DTS, also referred to as Single Frequency Networks, allow TV stations to, instead of having one large transmitter in the center of its market area, use multiple transmitters throughout the service area to provide more consistent coverage throughout the market. The new ATSC 3.0, Next Gen television transmission standard that is being rolled out throughout the country was designed for this kind of operation. This transmission model is more akin to the operation of cellular telephone networks than to the old broadcast model. ATSC 3.0 uses a transmission system in which multiple signals on the same channel that are receivable at the same location reinforce each other. Older broadcast transmission systems face issues when trying to operate multiple transmitters on the same channel, as these transmitters can cause destructive interference in areas where their coverage overlaps, making coverage worse, not better (see, for instance, the concerns about the proposals for the use of “zonecasting” for FM stations, where arguments have been raised that multiple FM same-channel boosters rebroadcasting a primary FM station will create pockets of interference within a station’s market – see our references to such comments in articles here, here, and here). The new DTS rules allow TV broadcasters to take advantage of the new ATSC 3.0 transmission characteristics to provide uniform, strong signals throughout a station’s market, without the destructive interference.
Continue Reading Effective Date Set for New Rules on TV Distributed Transmission Systems (Single Frequency Networks) – An Assist in the Roll-Out of Next Gen TV